Saturday is more relaxed at the JDF compound. The clinic opens if patients come with emergencies, but the staff have time to do laundry, relax, socialize and read. I did my laundry in a bucket alongside a couple of the male staff, who laughed because I wasn’t getting suds the way they were. I told them I’m used to washing my laundry in a machine, which they thought was very funny. I got through it, rinsed them and hung them to dry. In the past, I’ve not been able to do it myself here because Mary, one of the cooks, always stopped me and washed them for me. But Mary is on holiday. However, Angie started to wash her clothes and one of the cooks took it from her. Angie marveled at the suds generated, and that the woman got the grimy necklines clean.
We meant to go to church at nine and then visit with the women church leaders at 10. The service starts at eight, but the two-hour service is all in Dinka, so except for the drumming and the singing, it can feel a bit long. Angie was up talking to Mike, the JDF project manager, until about 1 am, so she slept in. I went for a run and showered. Then the Internet came on. We got there before ten and were mobbed by kids wanting their picture taken outside the church which we obliged for a while. Then we went in and the entourage followed. We were creating quite a stir in the back with the kids all chattering. The service was wrapping up so we retreated with the group of kids following and waited outside for the women.
I’ve met most of them before and know some of their names. Tabeesa, the matron who lives on our compound was married to a bishop, now deceased, and is a powerful woman in the church. John Dau’s (JDF Foundation) mother and stepmother are part of the group as well. At least three of them are named Deborah (pronounced with the accent on “bor”), and they love it when I tell them my name is Debora Agot. I introduce Angie as Angela because it is much easier for the Sudanese to understand.
The women are so happy we’re helping orphan girls. There are so many orphans here. Virtually all of them are widows. Most of them are caring for at least one orphan. They told us that when they were young, no girls received education and they didn’t know there was any value in educating girls. They thought the only value for girls was to fetch water and firewood and cook and care for the children. But now they have seen the benefits for young women who are educated. They have more skills to help their families, to earn income, and to have more choices in their lives. These women want education for the girls in the village, and they think our program will set an example and encourage others to send their girls to school as well.